Networking Return on Investment by Debra Dixon

I participated in a Networking Event; Now What?

You’ve held discussions, exchanged some business cards and developed new business relationships.

Here’s the question: What are you doing after the event to ensure that you a return on your investment from your membership? Are you performing your follow-up, sending out e- mails, mailing out post cards, and making phone calls? Are setting up appointments to form partnerships and alliances with other attendees of the event?

To get a good return on your investment to any networking event or activity, the planning starts before you even attend the event. How many times have you attended an event or joined an organization and said “I keep going to these meetings and I’m not getting any business. I’m not getting anything out of it!”

If you were to do a little soul searching, you might realize that you might be part of the problem. I came to this realization myself. Are you setting goals for what you need to get out of attending this event or joining an organization? That all goes into part of your planning.

Here are some tips to ensure that you get a return on your networking investment:

1) Develop your 30 – 60 second commercial beforehand. Know who your target market and your ideal client is. Figure out who you need to meet and be realistic about how many contacts you will make during a 2 – 4 hour event.

2) Be pleasant when you meet someone, use good eye contact, and shake hands. Ask probing questions about their business, like “who’s your target market”? How many people are in your organization? How long have you been in business?

3) Realize that everyone is not going to be your client, but they might be a good resource. And you might be a good resource for them. Be willing to pass on information that might be helpful to someone else.

4) Send an e-mail and make follow-up calls setting up a phone appointment or a face-to-face meeting over coffee. Also, refer people that you’ve met to your web site so that do some research about you prior to meeting.

5) Attend the appointment in a timely manner and call if you are running late.

6) Find out more about that person’s business, their goals, and discuss your products and services and how you might be able to reach their goals.

7) Determine whether this might be a hot or warm lead. There might not be a need for your products or services right now, but you can keep in contact with your new contact via e-mails or future phone calls. If they are ready to buy, then you might be able set up another meeting or do a presentation in person, over the phone, or over your website to close the deal or meet with other decision makers who are part of that organization.

So remember. For the best return on investment, invest your time, energy, and resources to make networking work for you.

And believe me, it will! Happy Networking!

Reposted on August 11, 2008

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